I have been studying the Montessori Method by Maria Montessori. In chapter, 14 which deals with the teaching of the senses, I have come up with an idea for class examples: Every material we wish to create should be accompanied by their real world counter part. While this maybe unrealistic for somethings like Gold, or sunken pirate ship wood, it is not impossible to ask of myself, the instructor, to build example materials that the student can have a tactile experience with. The importance of this approach is of that described by Maria:
"Education should guide and perfect the development of the three periods, the two peripheral and the central; or, better still, since the process fundamentally reduces itself to the nerve centres, education should give to psychosensory exercises the same importance which it gives to psychomotor exercises.
Otherwise, we isolate man from his environment. Indeed, when with intellectual culture we believe ourselves to have completed education, we have but made thinkers, whose tendency will be to live without the world. We have not made practical men. If, on the other hand, wishing through education to prepare for practical life; we limit ourselves to exercising the psychomotor phase, we lose sight of the chief end of education, which is to put man in direct communication with the external world."
This statement could not be more appropriate for the day and age we are living in now where the virtual world encroaches into and indeed overtakes that which is real. Tactile experience may connect the student to the real material, driving them to appreciate their surroundings; perhaps driving them to go out and experience the real world more (even while creating the a virtual one).
On a practical note, hands on real materials will allow for truly thorough observation of items. The student will be able to see by moving and touching the object, what the reflections really look like, how the smoothness of a surface changes the reflections, how bumpy the surface really is, what is the true color of the object according to their eyes, as opposed to the wide interpretation of the cameras sensor or monitor gamma correction. And they can play!
Daniel Triplett, is an artist that worked in game development for over 6 years, and now teaches in the Computer Graphics Technology department (CGT) at Purdue University.